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The Federal Reserve’s recent decision highlights its attempt to balance the need to tackle inflation with the goal of supporting struggling banks.

Jerome Powell, the Chair of the Federal Reserve Board, appeared before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, to present “The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress” at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

FROM SUN TO RAIN — 5 TIPS ON HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT OUTDOOR UMBRELLA FOR YOUR NEEDS Picture yourself lounging in your backyard or at an outdoor café, enjoying the warm sun on your skin while sipping on a refreshing drink. Suddenly, dark clouds gather, and before you know it, it starts to rain. You quickly seek shelter under an umbrella, only to find it small, flimsy, and unable to resist the wind and rain. Your experience is ruined, leaving you with a wet, uncomfortable mess. This scenario highlights the importance of choosing the right outdoor umbrella. Whether you’re looking for a personal umbrella for your backyard or a heavy-duty commercial umbrella for your café or restaurant, there are several factors to consider before purchasing. Whether it’s a scorching summer day or a sudden rain shower, having a high-quality outdoor umbrella can make all the difference, especially in Australia, where the weather can be unpredictable. The device is crucial to ensure your comfort and safety and can provide shade from the harsh sun, protect you from the rain, and add a stylish touch to your outdoor space. It also adds a touch of style and elegance to your outdoor space. From cafe umbrellas to cantilever patio umbrellas to heavy-duty commercial umbrellas, there are various options, each with its own features and benefits. But before you make a purchase, it's essential to do your research and consider some key factors to ensure you get the best value for your money, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. This blog post will share five essential tips before buying an outdoor umbrella in Australia. From choosing the right size and material to selecting the perfect style, we'll guide you through finding the perfect outdoor umbrella for your needs. So please sit back, grab a drink, and let’s dive in! What are outdoor umbrellas? Outdoor umbrellas are an excellent addition to any outdoor space, whether it’s your backyard, patio, or even a commercial space such as a restaurant or café. They provide shade and protection from the sun and rain and add aesthetic value to the area. If you’re planning to buy an outdoor umbrella in Australia, here are five essential tips to remember. Type of umbrella: Outdoor umbrellas come in different types, each with unique features and benefits. The most common types include market umbrellas, cantilever umbrellas, and cafe umbrellas. Market umbrellas are the traditional umbrella style with a central pole in the middle of the table. Cantilever umbrellas have a side post, allowing for better positioning and more flexibility. Cafe umbrellas are typically smaller and are designed to provide coverage to a smaller area, such as a sidewalk cafe. Before buying an umbrella, consider the type that best suits your space and intended use. Size matters. Another crucial factor to consider when buying a heavy-duty outdoor umbrella is its size. The size of the umbrella will depend on the area you want to cover. For example, if you want to cover a large outdoor dining area, you’ll need a larger umbrella than if you only need to cover a small seating area. The size of the umbrella also determines the amount of shade it provides. Be sure to measure your space accurately before buying an umbrella to ensure it fits well and provides adequate coverage. Ease of use: When choosing an umbrella, it’s essential to consider how easy it is to operate and maintain. A good cantilever patio umbrella should be easy to open and close, and the locking mechanism should be secure enough to prevent the umbrella from collapsing unexpectedly. Additionally, the umbrella should be easy to clean, and any removable parts should be easy to disassemble and reassemble. Look for umbrellas with simple, user-friendly designs that won’t cause frustration or stress when trying to enjoy your outdoor space. Fabric: The fabric used to make the outdoor umbrella is also an essential factor to consider. Look for a high-quality fabric that is UV-resistant, water-resistant, fire-retardant and easy to clean. The fabric should also be durable and withstand exposure to the elements without fading or deteriorating. Some of the most popular umbrella fabrics include polyester, acrylic, and olefin. Tilt options and vents: Some umbrellas have added features like tilt options, wind vents, and lights. Tilt options allow you to adjust the umbrella's angle to provide maximum shade throughout the day. Wind vents help to prevent the umbrella from toppling over in windy conditions. Lights can be added to the umbrella to provide illumination during evening events. Look for an umbrella with features that suit your needs and preferences. Conclusion Buying an outdoor umbrella in Australia can be an excellent investment for your outdoor space. If you're buying an umbrella for commercial use, such as in a restaurant or café, looking for heavy-duty commercial umbrellas is essential. These umbrellas are designed to resist the wear and tear of frequent use and exposure to the elements. They are constructed with durable materials such as aluminium and have reinforced joints and poles for added strength. They are also designed to be easy to operate and maintain. However, consider the umbrella type, size, fabric quality, and additional features when purchasing. You can enjoy your outdoor space comfortably and stylishly with the right umbrella.

Following Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse and calls to pause interest rate hikes, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the second time this year by 25 basis points on Wednesday.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has announced its decision to increase interest rates by 25 basis points for the second time in the current year, as it aims to combat inflation. 

Despite positive economic indicators such as a reduction in inflation in February and a thriving labor market that added 311,000 jobs, the FOMC, led by Fed Chair Jerome Powell, maintains that there is still much to be accomplished in achieving the pre-pandemic goal of attaining a 2% inflation level.

In February, Powell expressed his anticipation for a significant decline in inflation in the year 2023. He cautioned that this would be a gradual process, which may take a considerable amount of time and would not occur seamlessly. Instead, he anticipated that there would be bumps along the way.

The FOMC’s statement issued on Wednesday indicated that the committee deems it necessary to implement additional policy measures to attain a monetary policy stance that is adequately restrictive to achieve a 2% inflation level over an extended period.

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Although the committee is currently slowing down interest rate hikes, it intends to continue increasing rates throughout the year.

Democratic lawmakers have been urging Powell to halt the rate hikes for several months, particularly in light of recent turbulence in the banking industry. 

The past few weeks saw federal regulators close down Silicon Valley Bank and subsequently rescue the bank’s depositors, a move that received criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.

While Republican lawmakers alleged that the bailout was skewed towards the wealthy, Democrats honed in on 2018 legislation that overturned the Dodd-Frank Act, a law enacted in 2010 to safeguard consumers from predatory financial practices.

The 2018 bill, signed into law by former President Donald Trump, removed stress tests for small and medium-sized banks, including SVB. As a result, oversight mechanisms were absent, which could have otherwise ensured that these banks were equipped to respond to factors like an increase in interest rates.

However, other Democrats have not been as supportive. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown urged the Fed to halt the rate hikes. 

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren held Powell responsible for SVB’s collapse and told NBC’s Meet the Press that Powell aims to slow down the economy, leading to a loss of two million jobs, according to the Fed’s estimate. She believed that the Federal Reserve Chair should not pursue such a course of action. In Powell’s view, the situation presents a classic scenario of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Warren criticized Powell, claiming that he was not fulfilling his dual responsibilities as both an oversight manager of large banks and a decision-maker on inflation. Despite this, Powell maintains that it is preferable to raise interest rates excessively rather than inadequately to combat inflation, implying that more hikes this year cannot be ruled out.

Last month, Powell expressed his opinion that it is a challenging task to balance the risks of taking insufficient action and discovering in six or twelve months that the inflation problem persists. 

This would require implementing further measures, and there would be a real risk of expectations becoming unsettled. As such, he believes that it is better to be cautious and prevent inflation from spiraling out of control.

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Written by Dave Smith